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Working on Broadway, "It's a business"

NYC New Member Reception - Guest Speaker Kate Shindle


Pictured (L-R): Mark Aldrich, Chair, Eastern Region Membership Education Committee; Kate Shindle, Eastern Region Vice President & Special Guest Speaker

Equity Councillor Kate Shindle was the special guest at the New Member Reception hosted by the Eastern Region Membership Education Committee in New York on December 4, 2008.

A graduate of Northwestern University, Ms. Shindle was crowned Miss America in 1998, representing the state of Illinois. She subsequently spent twelve months traveling the country talking about HIV prevention, AIDS issues, and safer sex. Kate joined Equity in 1999 after landing a role in a production of INTO THE WOODS at the Little Theatre in the Square in Sullivan IL. She made her Broadway debut the following year in JEKYLL & HYDE, followed by stints as Sally Bowles in both the touring and Broadway productions of CABARET. She returned to Broadway as Vivian in LEGALLY BLOND. Regional credits include GPYSY, THE MOUSE TRAP, AFTER THE FALL, HIMSELF AND NORA, and THE LAST FIVE YEARS, A self-proclaimed "HIV activist," she is extremely proud of her role as a co-founder of the World AIDS Day concerts.

Her activism led her to become pro-union. Kate was elected to the National Council of Actors' Equity in 2008. She became involved with the union as a way to have a say in decisions about her career and her working environment and, she said, "It's been an incredibly positive experience." She serves or has served on the New Media Committee, Production Contract Negotiating Team, Off-Off-Broadway Committee and the Centennial Committee planning Equity's 100th birthday celebration, which comes up in 2013. (Note: Since this writing, Ms Shindle was elected and currently serves as Equity's Eastern Region Vice President.) "It's easy to get involved on many levels," she said, and cautioned the New Members not to think of Equity as "them," but rather, as "us."

She said she's been extremely "lucky," since coming to New York. But work didn't always come readily; she waited tables for a while before being cast in JEKYLL & HYDE. Working on Broadway, she said was exactly what she expected in many ways, but also very different. "It's a business."

Kate told the new Equity Members that, for her, it was important to take classes to hone her craft, do showcases, perform at open mics, sing for composers, read for playwrights-anything that would get her working, growing and meeting people in the business. Equity has Staged Reading Guidelines that you can do these gigs. It's not a lot of money, but, "You never know what can happen," she said. "If you get in at the ground level, it can be a stepping stone to another contract.

If performing is the only thing you ever wanted to do and you believe in yourself - Do it, Go for it."



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